New Year Memories / by Maki Aizawa

I have special memories for the end of year traditions at my grandparents’ rice farm in northern Miyagi Prefecture, Japan.  One of the things I did with my grandfather was making kiriko, paper cutting art. Kiriko, also called gohei, is used as a mark for a sacred place for the Shinto tradition. 

He put cut papers on a stick and went every room of the house. He shuffled the kiriko to purify the space and shouted so loud to scare away the bad spirits. This is the way to welcome the new spirits for the new year. 

My grandfather couldn’t hear much and didn’t talk much in general. This was the only time he was loud and my sister and I used to follow him and chuckle.